The White Hart Hotel, Hampton Wick: The Best of Town and Country
Nearest train stations: Hampton Wick, Kingston
Situated in Surrey, southwest of London on the River Thames, The White Hart in Hampton Wick is the perfect place to enjoy a classic English countryside break, while making the most of quick links into the heart of London. Combining classic Tudor style with modern touches, it’s an elegant and comfortable place to stay and enjoy everything both town and countryside have to offer.
From nearby Kingston or Hampton Wick stations, you can be in London in under 30 minutes, making The White Hart hotel an ideal base for day-trips into the city. Then, after exploring all the attractions London has to offer, you can unwind with tranquil strolls through the greenery of this beautiful corner of Surrey, simply by stepping out of the front door.
Hampton Court Palace has to be the highlight of any stay in Hampton Wick, and it can be reached from the pub via a 25-minute stroll through stunning parkland. The former home of Henry VIII is set in 60 acres of gardens, including the intricate Privy Garden, which has been reconstructed to mirror William III’s original design, and The Wilderness, a pleasure garden formerly belonging to Charles II that’s now filled with wildlife and flowers.
While at the palace you can join a free walking tour of the grounds, enjoy a historical shire-horse carriage ride, or visit The Magic Garden which, with its towers, battlements and grottos, provides a magical space for children to play. And no visit would be complete without getting thoroughly lost in the most famous puzzle maze in the world. By exploring this ancient hedge maze, which was commissioned in 1700, you’ll be following in the footsteps of royal visitors going back for centuries – and reaching the middle is not quite as easy as it looks.
You can also explore public areas inside the palace, view the extensive art collection, or buy tickets to one of the palace’s regular special exhibitions. Highlights inside the palace include walking up the Grand Staircase to King William III’s State Apartments to see the weaponry of the Guard Chamber and the Privy Chamber’s spectacular views of the garden.
The spirit of Henry VIII’s wife Catherine Howard, who was arrested at the palace three months before her execution, is still said to prowl The Haunted Gallery, while Henry VII’s labyrinthine Tudor kitchens offer a fascinating look at what life would have been like for his army of cooks as they produced 800 meals a day.
The Palace is also home to regular events, such as Horrible Histories live on stage, the Artisan Festival, and the annual Garden and Food Festivals, so it’s well worth taking a look at what’s happening at the palace before planning your visit. Make sure you check online and book your tickets in advance.
Once you’ve taken your time to explore the palace and its gardens, you can wander Hampton Court Park, The Royal Paddocks and Bushy Park’s 750 acres of wilderness, which are filled with wild deer and ancient trees. In Bushy Park, you can see the famous Diana Fountain, and traces of the park’s historic role in World War II – it was here that General Eisenhower planned the D-Day landings.
The parkland is also bordered on the east and south by The River Thames, and across the water to the east of the pub, you’ll find the pretty town of Kingston Upon Thames. As well as being a great spot for shoppers, with both department stores and plenty of independent shops to browse, there’s the chance to enjoy a picturesque riverside walk along a beautiful stretch of the Thames.
Beginning on Barge Walk, just south of the hotel, you can follow the river all the way around the edge of the parks, taking in the pretty barges lining the riverbank, Raven’s Ait, and Thames Ditton Island along the way. This path will take you to Hampton Court Bridge, where a right turn leads to Hampton Court Road and through the park, directly back to the hotel.